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Being selected for an interview is a success -- but it is just the beginning of the process. Counseling internships are competitive and so are the interviews. Write answers to all the questions you might be asked ahead of time. Then rehearse them until you are comfortable with your answers. Over-prepare for a successful interview to make the whole interview process a success.
Your interview will likely begin with questions aimed at getting to know you -- your personality, your background, your goals, your interest in the internship and internship site, your prior practicum experience and your professional philosophy. Answer such questions with planned quips about your history, fine-tuned lines about your passion for psychology and reasons for wanting this internship specifically. Explain how the internship will help you achieve your goals and how you are a fit for the site. The American Psychological Association suggests creating a list of your strengths and the site's strengths -- find those that match -- and focus on those in your interview.
Your counseling style or preferred techniques are important to the site -- they want to know that they are the right site to help you develop your strengths. Expect to be asked questions about establishing boundaries with clients, your theoretical orientation, your dissertation topic, your supervision expectations, your clinical interests and your past experience with clients. You may even be asked about negative experiences -- be prepared to give an example, state what went wrong and what you learned. Candidates are often given a case and asked to conceptualize it -- apply theory to the situation and offer possible diagnosis and treatment options.
Jenny Westerkamp, co-founder of All Access Internships, suggests answering all interview questions using a consistent format. She recommends you restate each question you are asked and then give a general answer. Follow up with an experience or example and emphasize its relation to the question. End with a quick recap of your general answer. Never get carried away or go on a tangent. Assume that the interviewer will ask you what she wants to know.
Your Chance to Ask Questions
An interview should be a two-way communication, so be prepared to ask your own questions and take advantage of this opportunity. This shows interest in the position and that you take initiative. Always have questions planned in advance. Ask about the supervision the site provides interns, the expectations of interns, how many hours will be spent working face to face with clients and how much will be spent on paperwork or finishing up a dissertation. Questions about the specific population the site services, the team dynamics in the organization and if they expect any changes to the site in the next year are also helpful.
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What to Expect When Going to an Interview for an Internship→
- American Psychological Association: Answer These 5 -- Know the Answers to These Questions to Ace Your Internship Interview
- Social Psychology Network: Common Questions Asked of Interns
- University of Minnesota -- Department of Educational Psychology: 2006-2007 Counseling and Student Personnel Doctoral Practicum Handbook
- Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies: Interviewing for Internships
- National Board for Certified Counselors: Internships
- All Access Internships: Preparing for an Interview
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.